Do stay at home parents feel guilty?

Sometimes.

But it's not because I feel like I should be out using my talents to teach a classroom full of children, rather than two tiny toddlers.

It's not because I feel like I need to be contributing to our retirement fund. As far as I'm concerned, I contribute to our retirement every time I stay home and cook Daniel Quatro a healthy homemade meal so that he doesn't have to eat loads of unhealthy food at McDonald's.

It's not because other mothers seem to be strong enough to handle the presssures of the working world and the pressures of parenting. Parenting alone has enough pressures to content just about anyone, and as for the working world, I do teach music from home and have deadlines, due dates, appointments, and difficult customers.

It's because my husband goes away to a very hot, stuffy environment, puts on the uniform they have assigned to him, and proceeds to solve someone else's problems for eight, ten, or twelve hours a day, five or six days a week.

It's because when I'm hot, I can sit down with some iced lemonade and change into something more cool and comfortable. Yes, two small men may instantly begin clamoring for their own lemonade, and that cool outfit may soon be covered in baby drool. But I have the option of curling up on the couch for thirty seconds if I want do.

I can stay in my pajamas and enter "survival mode parenting" if I'm sick. We can live on hot dogs for a day, deal with a less-than-freshly-shampooed head of baby hair, and let the laundry pile up. Unless my husband is sick enough to feel it justifies a true sick day, he's headed for work - stuffy nose and headache notwithstanding.

If I wish, I can cancel lessons and put on a movie for the kids and write Quora answers all day long when I have a headache. Nobody is limiting my breaks. Nobody says I must finish the dishes. Nobody is tracking the minutes I spend over lunch. I don't have to call anyone if I decide to put everyone in bed a little earlier and sleep.

That's where I find some guilt. Yes, motherhood at home can bring me to hot tears and meltdowns. But at least if I want to have smeared makeup and eat chocolate, I don't need to let my employer know ahead of time.

We both work hard. My work as a stay at home mother is unpredictable - frequently changing - constantly shifting - never the same. His work as the hardworking breadwinner is predictable - frequently monotonous - constantly draining - and often the same.

It is the liberty that comes with staying at home that does indeed make me feel guilty on occasion. I'm not eating bonbons. I work hard. But when I do, it is because my family needs me and my desire is to be a good mother - not because I will get fired.

(Note: my husband has a wonderful job that has treated our family amazingly well! These are simply observations gained from watching him at work at various jobs for several years. I'm not complaining about his job - just celebrating some of the perks of mine!)


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